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Calanais Standing Stones


The Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones are one of the "must-sees" of Lewis and should be on the to-do list of any tourist who makes the long trip to the Outer Hebrides.

Although smaller in terms of circumference than the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, the Calanais stones have an aesthetic value that the Orkney stones can't match. There are some modern buildings within view of the stones, but their presence does not spoil the timeless quality of this Neolithic site, and the view in most directions has probably not changed much since the time when the stones were erected.

The exact purpose of the stones is not clear and is open to debate. They may have had ceremonial use for funerals, or they might have had some significance for rituals that involved using them as an astronomical "observatory". The various theories about the purpose of the stones are reviewed in a short audio-visual presentation that you can see in the modern visitor centre.

There are actually several stone circle sites at Calanais and you can see these signposted from the road as Calanais 1, 2 and 3. Calanais 1 is the must-see site and it is the one that we have pictured below. This site is accessed via a short uphill walk from the car park / visitor centre. Access to the site is not restricted by opening times so you can visit any time of day and on a Sunday.

Information boards at the site give some explanation about the history of the stones, such as the fact that much of the site was buried under several feet of peat until excavated in 1857. This explains why the lower sections of the stones are paler in colour.


Calanais, Isle of Lewis

Operated by:

Historic Environment Scotland

Opening Hours:

Stones accessible all year. Visitor Centre - April to September: everyday 10 am to 6 pm.
October to March: Wed to Sat, 10 am to 4 pm






Gaelic and English


Gravel paths on a gradient to access the stones, 2 kissing gates make it awkward for wheelchairs or prams, but the site can be accessed by road too.






Yes - At the visitor centre there is a good little cafe for coffee and cake before climbing up to the standing stone site.

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